Celebrating mothers for their gift of life and all they do can’t be fully appreciated in one day. It’s my personal opinion that mothers would be better served if  Mother’s day occurred weekly!

What I want all of us (especially us sons )  to consider is how our mothers(or their equivalents) may have influenced our interactions with the other gender, regardless of how we identify.

As a CIS gendered white male, I can say in no uncertain terms that my first relationship with a woman was my mother and undoubtedly has had an influence on me, as well as how I interacted with women throughout my life. Like most parents she did the best she could and made some mistakes along the way (I’ve made plenty along the way as a parent myself). What is key to consider is that this is simply an awareness endeavor, not a blaming one. I want to take this one step further by acknowledging their mistakes and/or wounding, it is still a gift.

When we step into our adult self and transcend any childhood wounding, we develop a unique skill. We grow up. We heal. And from this place we can authentically thank our parents for being who they are and that they did the best they could. We can also thank them for the opportunity to transcend our own childhood wounds. This means we can break the family pattern that often gets passed down until someone does their work.There is a saying in men’s work, “From our deepest wound springs our greatest gift”. So I say, THANKS MOM!

A personal note

My mom suffers from Alzheimers and no longer knows who I am . It’s been painful to witness such a strong woman fall to the disease and at the same time I truly appreciate her. WIth that said, I want to dedicate this blog to my mom, Elaine Arata. Much of who I am as a man today is because of her and she is worthy of celebrating!

As you begin to read this blog, my invitation is to contemplate that your mother (or female caregiver in your life) influenced you in many ways you probably haven’t considered.

My mom absolutely refused to accept the gender norms of her time and culture.

With respect to my work as an ally and inclusionary leader, I owe a lot to what my mom taught me.

She was born into an Italian immigrant family with an older brother who received the “traditional” attention a first born son would receive. This is important to note because her experience, as I recall her sharing with me, was that she was denied opportunities that were afforded to her brother, like a college education and playing sports, simply because she was a girl. My mom blazed her own trail, playing golf and tennis and as a result, I grew up in an athletic household. While my father was a college football player, an avid golfer and tennis player, it was my mother that influenced my own athletic development.

My mom showed me what was possible; not just for women but how she partnered with my father and she didn’t take no for an answer.

My mom very early in her life connected to her inner masculinity.

She was one tough cookie, no match for a young boy. And at the same time she also embraced her feminine . My experience of my mother initially had me both attracted to and afraid of strong women.

I did what most boys do with a powerful mom…I gave up my power. I learned all about this as a result of my men’s work and how this played out in my relationships with women. This is often referred to as emasculation and is not uncommon. The rub is that while it may be what we as little boys needed to do when we were young and in need of our mothers love and attention, it doesn’t serve us as adult men in our relationships, personal or professional.

The work of healthy masculinity- my path to becoming a man

Part of my own work as a healthy masculine man had me  reclaim my power so as to not project my “mother wound” on other women. I had some healing to do and some forgiveness to embrace and it has paid off in my relationships with women.

Our inner work as men is the place I invite us guys to bring attention to…specifically as it relates to   our interactions with women, both personally and professionally. . I routinely check in with myself to make sure I’m not projecting my “stuff” onto women. Healthy masculinity is partially  about our own inner maturation,  transforming from being unaware of what has historically driven our behavior to being conscious and acting from a healthy adult place.

A question I ask myself when I encounter a strong and powerful woman is, “am I resorting to tactics I learned and used as a little boy”? If you are interested in exploring this deeper, you can read my book, Showing Up: How Men Can Become Effective Allies in the Workplace.

Once I began my men’s work and healed , I was able to step into my adult healthy masculine self. I didn’t know it at the time but this was the beginning of my path of reducing the impact of what I call “ family of origin bias” onto women. I can now respect strong women and not be triggered into my “little boy”. Nor do I consider them “aggressive” , a label  many men use to describe strong women. To the men reading this, my invitation for you is just to ponder what I am sharing and see if any of it fits.

Final thoughts: Healthy Masculinity and Healthy Femininity

I am always talking about or  referencing “healthy masculinity” as it pertains to men. In writing this blog, I am coming away with the idea that “ healthy masculinity” also has its place with women. And, because of this insight and logic, I can also say(and own) that there is room for “healthy femininity” not just in women but in men.

I’ve often stated that my 24 year journey of men’s work has been an inward journey to connect to my inner feminine on my way to being a whole person. Isn’t that what we are all aspiring to do?

To be whole? To be human? To be ourselves?  To Be Better Together?

BE BETTER TOGETHER: The next iteration of the Better Man Conference

It’s time to evolve; it’s time to be better together. The Better Man Conference had a 6 year run, spanning 16 conferences. We all grew. The community grew. Now, it’s time to take the leap.

In partnership with Jennifer Brown Consulting, we have landed on the “Be Better Together Conference”, a two day virtual conference, designed to both meet newcomers and those on the path of inclusion. We have a hold on October 17-19th this year. We will be sending out more information in the coming months so stay tuned!

Thanks for all your support along the way and I look forward to connecting with you all soon!

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